VSO Tools

Presumptive Service Connection for Rare Respiratory Cancers Due to Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter (Final Rule-This rule is effective November 3, 2023)

What does the regulation do? This final rule amends Department of Veterans Affairs regulations to establish presumptive service connection for nine rare respiratory cancers in association with presumed exposure to fine particulate matter.

Commemorative Plaques and Urns (Proposed Rule)

What does the regulation do? This proposed rulemaking would implement new statutory authority (by adding 38 C.F.R. § 38.634) for the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) to furnish upon request, either a commemorative plaque or a commemorative urn for a veteran whose cremated remains are not interred in a national cemetery, a state veterans' cemetery, a tribal cemetery, a county cemetery, or a private cemetery. This new benefit was authorized by section 2207 of P. L. 116-315, the “Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020.”

Once a commemorative plaque or urn is furnished, the statute prohibits the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from interring that veteran in a VA national cemetery or providing a government headstone, marker, or medallion for that veteran in any cemetery.

Reevaluation of Claims for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (Final Rule - This rule is effective January 23, 2024)

What does the regulation do? This final rule amends VA’s regulations for certain awards of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) to incorporate statutory amendments made under Section 204 of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 or the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022 (PACT Act). As a result, relevant claimants can elect to have VA reevaluate certain previously denied DIC determinations based on changes that establish or modify a presumption of service connection. Any award following a reevaluation may be made retroactively, as if the new or modified presumption of service connection had been in effect when the original claim was submitted.

Fee Reasonableness Reviews; Effect of Loss of Accreditation on Direct Payment (Proposed Rule)

What does the proposal do? This is a proposed rule to update VA’s process for reviewing, determining, and allocating reasonable fees for attorneys or agents whose representation of a VA benefits claimant resulted in an award of past-due benefits. It would also address the effect on direct fee payment by VA of the termination of an agent’s or attorney’s VA accreditation. If approved, this proposed rule will be published for public comment. 

Active Service Pay (Final Rule – This rule is effective January 11, 2024)

What does the regulation do? The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) amends its adjudication regulations to permit VA to adjust disability compensation payments under certain circumstances upon receipt of notice from the Department of Defense (DoD) that the veteran has received or is receiving active service pay.

Outer Burial Receptacles (Proposed Rule)

What does the proposal do?  (100 words or less): The rule proposes to revise 38 CFR § 38.629 to implement expanded statutory authority to provide outer burial receptacles (OBRs) for graves in cemeteries that are the subject of a grant to a State or Tribal Organization under 38 USC § 2408. VA proposes to pay a monetary allowance for privately purchased OBRs and for OBRs placed at the time of interment. VA will reimburse the cost of OBRs preplaced as part of a construction grant project. Congress expanded authority in Pub.L. 116-355 § 2203, January 5, 2021, with an effective date of January 5, 2023.

Benefits Bulletin April 2021

o Upcoming learning and development opportunities to include Spring Regional Quarterly Accreditation Training

o Legislative updates on several issues including:

    -Veteran Focused Provisions of the American Rescue Plan

    -SAVE LIVES Act That Allows VA to Vaccinate All Veterans, Spouses and Caregivers

o Nashville Regional Office resumes pre-determination hearings

o NVLSP representation and success update

Benefits Bulletin May 2021

o Upcoming learning and development opportunities to include Spring Regional Quarterly Accreditation Training

o VA updates on several issues including:

    -Expanding Eligibility and Access to VA Home Loan Program

    -Application information for Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP)

o Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans & Nehmer Special Review

o Tips for How VSO's Can Assist VA in Expediting Compensation and Pension (C&P) Examinations

Benefits Bulletin June 2021

o Upcoming learning and development opportunities to include Quarterly Accreditation Training

o  Veteran Benefits updates on several issues including:

           - Extension of time for transitioning service members to apply for Veterans' Group Life Insurance

           - Extension of judicial review to adverse decisions made by VA's Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregiver.

o Tip for How VSOs Can Use VBMS to Track VA Claims Development

Benefits Bulletin July 2021

o Upcoming learning and development opportunities to include Quarterly Accreditation Training

o Veteran Benefit updates on several issues including:

            -Discharge Status Reviews for Post-9/11 Veterans

            - Overview of VHA's Administrative Review Process

            - Ensuring availability of judicial review to adverse decisions made by VA's Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers

o Tips for How VSOs Can Use Partial Rating Decisions to Speed the Delivery of Benefits

Benefits Bulletin August 2021

o Veteran Benefits updates on several issues including:

            - VA Assistance to Help Avoid Eviction

            - Presumptive Service Connection for Respiratory Conditions for Gulf War Veterans

o Quality Review Highlights including:

            - Lack of Veteran or Claimants Signatures

            - Do Not Package Intent to File and Application for Benefits on the Same Day

o Fact Sheet on New and Examded Benefits Designated to Suport Veterans During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    

Benefits Bulletin September 2021

o Tennessee Housing Development Agency Rent Relief and Utility Assistance

o Veterans Benefits updates on several issues including:

            - VBMS Update Release Notes-POA Electronic Notification

            - Pension Management Center Updates:

                    -Template Incompetency Notice Response

                    - Template Attendant Affidavit

o Quality Review Highlights including: 

             - Lack of Veteran or Claimant Signature

o Publication of VA's 2021 Federal Benefits Handbook for Veterans,  Dependents and Survivors

Benefits Bulletin October 2021

o VA and Veteran Benefit Updates

       -Final Rule

                  -Schedule for Ratiings Disabilities; The Genitourinary Diseases and Conditions

                  - Schedule for Rating Disabilities: The Cardiovascular System 

                  - Extension of the Presumptive Period for Compensation for Persian Gulf War Veterans

         -Proposed Rule

                   - Fiduciary Bonding Requirements

        -Intrim Final Rule

                   -Extension of Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Eligibility for Legacy Participants and Legacy Applicants

          -Annual Cost of Living Adjustment

         - Debt Collection & Debt Relief

         - New Veterans Benefits Guide

o Quality Review Insights

           -Lack of Veterans or Claimants Signature

           -What Forms can a representative sign?

o Practice Like a Pro

            -VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities Update

o Advocate Spotlight

            -Disagreeing with a VA Decision

Benefits Bulletin November 2021

o    TDVS Training Schedule Through End of Calendar Year

       - Annual Examination - Friday, November 19th OR Monday, November 22nd

       - December Lunch and Learn - Caseflow

                   -NEW - TDVS will make time and have team members available to answer questions and discuss topics from the benefits bulletin at each future lunch and learn opportunity.

o   VA Regulatory Updates to include a change that allows VA to accept uncertified copies of service documents as evidence of military service.

o   Quality Review Highlights including -

         - Practice Tip to Ensure TDVS Representation During Informal Conferences

         - Lack of Veteran or Claiment Signature

o Introduction to Legal Aid Resources Across Tennessee

o County Partner's Life Changing Advocacy on Behalf of a Surviving Spouce of a Vietnam Veteran

Benefits Bulletin December 2021

o   TDVS Training Schedule for 2022

o    How You Can Participate in VA's Claim Accuracy Request (CAR) Pilot (Fact Sheet and Job Aid attached)

o    VA & Veteran Benefits Updates to Include

       -Update on VA Mail Delays

       - New Benefit Rate Tables

       - Pension Management Center Updates

o    Practice Like a Pro Tips

        - Caregiver Program Appeals

        - Application of Intent to File to Supplemental Claims

Benefits Bulletin January 2022

o February Lunch & Learn - Preparation of the Eligibility Verification Report (EVR) and Medical Expense Report Form

o VA & Veteran Benefit Updates to Include:

      o Regulatory Updates

            - Proposed Rule to Update VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities - Digestive System and Proposed Rule to Eliminate Copays for Veterans identified as High Risk for Suicide

            - Information on DoD's Atomic Veterans Service Certificate Program

o Practice Like a Pro Tip

      - TDVS Fact Sheet - NPRC Delays & Tools and Resources Available to Support Military Record Requests

      - Advocacy Tips

            - Minimize Adjudication Delays - Scan Documents Separately into VetraSpec

            - Survivor Power of Attorney - Why Can't I access the record?

Benefits Bulletin February 2022

o March Lunch & Learn - VA S.A.V.E., A Review of General Suicide Prevention Efforts, March 9, 2022

o REQUIRED TRAINING ***SAVE THE DATE*** -Spring Quartery Regional Training, April 6, 2022

o VA & Veteran Benefit Updates to Include:

    -Regulatory Updates

          -Final Rule - Threshold for Reporting VA Debts to Consumer Reporting Agencies

    -VA's Debt Management Center Updates

o Practice Like a Pro Tips

    -Ready for Decision

    -Advocacy Tips

          -Using SHARE to find retired pay amounts

          -Reviewing your work        

Benefits Bulletin March 2022

o REQUIRED TRAINING - Spring Quarterly Regional Training, April 6, 2022, From 9 - 12pm CST

o Training and Resources in Support of Tennessee's Efforts to Prevent Suicide Among Service members, Veterans and Their Families

o VA & Veteran Benefits Updates to Include:

          o Regulatory Updates

                     o Proposed Rules - Schedule for Rating Disabilities; Mental Disorders; Ear, Nose, Throat, and Audiology Disabilities; Special Provisions Regarding Evaluation of Respiratory Conditions; Respiratory System

                      o Mail Delays and Extension of Timeframes to Respond to VA Notification Letter

          o VA Release indicating it will propose adding several rare cancers to the presumed service-connected list as related to military environment exposure

o Practice Like a Pro Tips

          o Another Tool to Combat National Personal Records Center Delays

          o Advocacy Tips

                   o Best Way to File an Intent to File or VA Form 21-0966 for Both Compensation and Pension

                    Using VetraSpec's My Task Organizational/Reminder Tool

    TDVS Benefits Bulletins are posted on the VSO Tools portion of the TDVS's Website

Benefits Bulletin April 2022

o  TDVS Training Updates

April Initial Accreditation Training, April 18th - April 22nd, 2022. 

May Lunch & Learn, May 11, 2022, 11:30 to 12:30 CST.  VHA Homeless Programs in Tennessee.  

o VA & Veteran Benefit Updates to Include

     - Regulatory Update

     - Take Advantage of Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) Before December 2022

o Practice Like a Pro Tips

     - VA Form 10182 Deep Dives

     - Let's Talk About Private Medical Evidence

     - What's New in the MArch 2022 VA Form 10182 (Decision Review Request: Board Appeal (Notice of Disagreement)

o Advicate Spotlight

     - Identifying and Obtaining the Evidence Necessary to Win a Claim       

 

Benefits Bulletin May 2022

o TDVS Updates

- June Lunch and Learn, June 8, 2022, 11:30 to 12:30 CST TBD

- SAVE THE DATE - Annual Conference, September 26-28th, Montgomery Bell State Park

- Tennessee Legislative Update - Death Certificates for Veterans

- VetraSpec Updates and Maintenance

o VA & Veteran Benefit Updates to Include

- Regulatory Updates

        -Presumptive Service Connection for Rare Respiratory Cancers Due to Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter

- VA Self Service Tools

o Practice Like a Pro Tips

- Back to Basics

          -The Role of an Advocate

o Advocate Spotlight

- Back to Basics        

Benefits Bulletin June 2022

o TDVS Updates
     - Mandatory July Quarterly Training - Establishing Entitlement to Connection for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus, July 11-17, 2022, viewing will be available for seven days 24/7.  Email invitation sent out May 26, 2022 with registration instructions.
     - SAVE THE DATE - Annual Conference, September 26 - 28, Montgomery Bell State Park
     - Groundbreaking of the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Arlington
     - Tennessee Veteran Spotlight
o VA & Veteran Benefit Updates to include:
     - Special Monthly Pension Allowance Resources
     - PMC jurisdiction and inquiries
o Practice Like a Pro Tips
     - Back to Basics
          - Connecting the DOTS: How to review a VA claim file.
o Advocate Spotlight
     - Reviewing a VA Claim File Pays Off
 

Benefits Bulletin July 2022

o TDVS Updates

    - Mandatory Quarterly Training: Establishing Entitlement to Service Connection for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus, July 11-17, 2022, viewing will be available for seven days 24/7.

    - July Initial Accreditation Training, July 25th – 29th, 2022

    - August Lunch & Learn, August 10, 2022, 11:30 to 12:30 CST. VSO Asbestos Claims Training

    - Annual Conference, September 26 - 28, Montgomery Bell State Park. Email invitation sent out June 20, 2022, with registration instructions

    - October Initial Accreditation Training, October 17th – 21st, 2022. **Please note this course has moved one week earlier

o VA & Veteran Benefit Updates to include

    - Debt Management Updates

    - Legislative Update - Honoring Our Pact Act

    - Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission Update

o Practice Like a Pro Tips

    - Higher Level Review and Informal Conference

    - Back to Basics

          - Connecting the Dots: Obtaining military records and information to help substantiate a claim

o Advance Spotlight

    - Back to Basics Results in Retroactive Award (Again)

Benfits Bulletin August 2022

  • TDVS Updates
    • Training Updates
      • Annual Conference, September 26 - 28, Montgomery Bell State Park. CSO Reservations need to be made no later than August 12, 2022 to keep the special rate. Make reservations on line https://guestrez.megasyshms.com/NCP4N/montgomery-bell-state-park or by phone (615) 797-3101 and mention group code 2029.
      • October Initial Accreditation Training, October 17th – 21st, 2022. **Please note this course has moved one week earlier.
    • Tennessee Veteran Spotlight
  • VA & Veteran Benefit Updates to Include
    • Legislative Update – Honoring Our PACT Act is Law
  • Practice Like a Pro Tips
    • Several Tips on Effective Advocacy Before VA
  • Advocate Spotlight
    • Welcome Newly Accredited Representatives

Benefits Bulletin September 2022

  • TDVS Updates
    • Training Updates - October Initial Accreditation Training, October 17th – 21st, 2022. **Please note this course has moved one week earlier.
    • Tennessee Veteran Spotlight (Part 3)
    • TDVS’s PACT Act Toolbox  
    • VA & Veteran Benefit Updates to Include
      • Regulatory Updates
      • Pending Expansion of Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to All Generations of Veterans
    • Practice Like a Pro Tips
      • Breakout Session at Annual Conference, Wednesday, September 28th to put several Benefit Bulletin advocacy tips into practice through a hands-on learning opportunity. 

Benefits Bulletin January 2023

Description: Don't miss the latest TDVS Benefits Bulletin 23-1, featuring exciting updates and resources for Tennessee Veterans and advocates. Mark your calendars for the TDVS Annual Conference 2023, scheduled for October 23 - 25 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Discover the upcoming TDVS training events, including the February Lunch and Learn on suicide prevention and the March session. Explore the PACT Act Toolbox's new additions, access VA and Veteran benefit updates, and learn about the Wellness Wednesday Financial Educational Series. Plus, sharpen your advocacy skills with practical tips on developing medical evidence. Advocate Spotlight highlights the vital role in supporting timely appeals resolution. Read it all in just over 4 minutes!

Benefits Bulletin February 2023

Description: Check out the latest TDVS Benefits Bulletin 23-2, packed with valuable updates and resources for veterans and their families. Learn about the new VA policy offering free emergency health care for veterans experiencing a suicidal crisis. Discover Tennessee's efforts to prevent veteran suicide and access training programs. Stay informed about the recent changes to VA procedures for alternate signer certifications and the Supreme Court's decision on effective dates. Plus, explore the VetraSpec Work Group's efforts, the PACT Act Toolbox, and upcoming training events. Don't miss this essential resource for veterans' benefits and well-being! Read in just over 5 minutes.

Benefits Bulletin March 2023

Description: Check out the latest TDVS Benefits Bulletin 23-3, packed with updates and resources for Tennessee Veterans and advocates. Discover the exciting news that Tennessee has been honored with the prestigious Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award for outstanding service and support to veterans and their families. Learn about the upcoming training events, explore the updated PACT Act Toolbox, and stay informed about VA and Veteran benefit updates, including increased life insurance coverage and automobile grant legislation. Practice like a pro by supporting timely quality review and filing, and gain insights into developing medical evidence for disability claims. Don't miss the inspiring Advocate Spotlight showcasing the successful teamwork between Veteran service offices. Read it all in just over 5 minutes!

Benefits Bulletin April 2023

Description: Stay up-to-date with the latest TDVS Benefits Bulletin 23-4, featuring essential updates for Tennessee Veterans and advocates. Don't miss the big news of the date change for the TDVS Annual Conference 2023, now taking place from October 2nd to October 4th in Knoxville. Learn about the grant opportunity through the Staff Sergeant Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program and other TDVS updates. Discover the latest developments in the PACT Act Toolbox, VA and Veteran benefit updates, and the launch of a study on Gulf War Illness. Plus, find valuable practice tips to support timely quality review and filing. Celebrate the accomplishments of Tennessee's newest accredited representatives in the Advocate Spotlight. Read it all in just over 6 minutes!

Benefits Bulletin June 2023

Description: Stay updated with TDVS Benefits Bulletin 23-6! Registration is now open for TDVS Annual Conference 2023, taking place from October 2nd to October 4th in Knoxville, TN. Learn about the Tennessee State Veterans Home Ribbon Cutting and upcoming training opportunities. Discover the latest updates in the PACT Act Toolbox, including a proposed rule for electronic notification for VA benefit claims. Get informed about the reinstated 30-day requirement for Beneficiary Travel Claims and access self-service fact sheets for requesting records. In the Advocate Spotlight, find out how TDVS and NVLSP's partnership has resulted in successful outcomes for Veterans. All this in under 3 minutes!

Benefits Bulletin July 2023

Description: Explore TDVS Benefits Bulletin 23-7! Join the TDVS Town Hall in Harriman, TN, and get updates on the VetraSpec Work Group's progress in improving the claims management system. Learn how you can help Tennessee Veterans with VA's re-adjudication of claims for medical expenses. Discover the upcoming training schedule, PACT Act Toolbox updates, and VBMS eFolder Modernization & Smart Search functionality. Find self-service fact sheets and welcome the newest accredited representatives. All this in under 4 minutes!

Benfits Bulletin August 2023

Description: Explore the latest updates and resources in the TDVS Benefits Bulletin 23-8. Learn about property tax relief for disabled Veterans, 2023 Annual Conference, Inaugural Advocacy Summit, upcoming training sessions, and vital VA benefit updates to include, PACT Act Health Care Deadline, VA expands Breast Cancer Screenings. Discover inspiring stories in our Advocate Spotlight. Get informed in just 4 minutes!

Benefits Bulletin September 2023

No publication for September 2023

Benefits Bulletin October 2023

Description: Discover the latest updates in TDVS Benefits Bulletin 23-10. Governor Lee's Veterans Day Event, training schedules, expanded burial benefits, improved maternity care coordination, and practical application materials from the Annual Conference. Don't miss the inspiring Advocate Spotlight. Read now for important Veterans' services news.  This month's bulletin will take just under 3 minutes to read

Benfits Bulletin November 2023

Description: "Stay informed with the latest updates in the November 2023 TDVS Benefits Bulletin. Discover important news, including the pause on pension debt collections, expanded submission tools in VetraSpec, upcoming training schedules, and key VA and Veteran benefit updates. Plus, don't miss the Advocate Spotlight featuring Tennessee's newest accredited representatives. Read now to stay up-to-date on crucial Veterans' services information." All this under 4 Minutes!

Benefits Bulletin December 2023

Description: Discover the latest updates in veterans' benefits with our December 2023 Benefits Bulletin. Highlights include the launch of the Honor Guard Grant Program, essential updates to the PACT Act Toolbox, training schedules, information on the Clarksville Vet Center Expansion, and important VA and Veteran Benefit Updates. Stay informed about changes in VA home loans, commemorative plaques, and urns, and the presumptive service connection for rare respiratory cancers. Don't miss the valuable tips in the 'Practice Like a Pro' section. Explore the full bulletin for comprehensive insights into supporting our veterans.  This month’s bulletin is 1,740 words and will take 6 ½ minutes of your time.

Benefits Bulletin January 2024

Description: Stay informed with the January 2024 Benefits Bulletin. Learn about the upcoming VSO listening session for VA forms feedback and updates to TDVS' Knowledge Library. Get important information on the Nashville RO's PIV office location, training schedules for the year, and proposed and final VA rule changes. Discover how to address direct deposit issues with the VA Form 21-526EZ and celebrate the success of the National Veterans Legal Services Program's partnership with TDVS. Explore the full bulletin for essential updates on veterans' benefits.  This month's bulletin is 1,155 words and will take 4 minutes of your time.

Benefits Bulletin February 2024

Description: Stay informed with the February 2024 Benefits Bulletin. Learn about the filing deadline for reimbursement of post-2010 emergency medical expenses and how veterans enrolled in VA Health Care can apply for reimbursement. Get updates from the VSO listening session on VA forms and proposed improvements, including feedback on voided checks and simplification of survivor forms. Explore training schedules for the upcoming months and stay up-to-date on proposed rules regarding disability or death benefit claims and outer burial receptacles. Plus, discover insights on claim and appeal processing timelines and welcome Tennessee's newest accredited representatives. Dive into the bulletin for essential updates on veterans' benefits.  This month's bulletin is 1,213 words and will take 4 1/2 minutes of your time.